MAY 16, 2017
On May 12, 2017, authorities in Turkmenistan released Mansur Masharipov from prison. He is grateful to be back with his family after this latest incarceration of nearly a year in prison.
Earlier, Mr. Masharipov refused military service as a conscientious objector. In May 2004, the Dashoguz Court sentenced him to 18 months in the Seydi labor camp, a prison infamous for abuse, deprivation, and disease. His health suffered, although he was released early because of a special amnesty in May 2005. In July 2014, police burst into his home, searched it, and seized his religious literature. While he was in custody, the police repeatedly beat and threatened him, and then placed him in a drug rehabilitation center—not for the sake of his welfare, but to inject him with drugs. The injections sickened and paralyzed him. Fearing for his life, Mr. Masharipov managed to escape and remained in hiding until he was apprehended on June 30, 2016.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are grateful for the release of Mr. Masharipov. However, they express concern for the heavy-handed actions that Turkmenistan uses to prevent the Witnesses from freely exercising their religion. The Witnesses also continue to work for the release of Bahram Hemdemov. He is now beginning the third year of his imprisonment in the Seydi prison camp for leading a group of Witnesses in peaceful worship services at his home.